Parties begin consensus bid on Prez polls

The Samajwadi Party, Trinamul Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and AIADMK are learnt to have held the initial round of informal talks with some non-Congress leaders on the presidential election, at a time when the Congress too has begun a “consensus-building” exercise through consultations.

This was disclosed by a leader involved in the talks.
Within the BJP-led Opposition, the mood now is not in favour of any deal with the ruling coalition on the issue. “Let us see how Mulayam, Mamata and Mayawati play their cards,” a top NDA leader said Sunday, suggesting that the Congress could not hope to get both presidential and vice-presidential posts.
In Chennai, defence minister A.K. Antony called on DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi in an effort by the Congress to build a consensus among its allies on the presidential contest. Mr Antony told reporters after the hour-long meeting that he had a “very fruitful discussion” on the “current political situation” with Mr Karunanidhi, but would not reveal details “to anyone but Soniaji”.
DMK leaders too refused to say what had transpired. Mr Antony said: “Congress president Soniaji asked me to meet the DMK president to discuss the political situation. We had a detailed discussion. I can tell you I had a very fruitful discussion. I will report to the Congress president whatever he said.” He said Mr Karunanidhi was the nation’s “seniormost leader” and “we always value his advice”.
Among those present were DMK parliamentary leader T.R. Baalu, Mr Karu-nanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP, her mother Rajathia-mmal and Lok Sabha MP T.K.S. Elangovan.
Sources in New Delhi said the NDA and non-UPA parties could become relevant in the presidential election only if Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati play a proactive role. All the three lead parties which now support the UPA government. Mrs Sonia Gandhi is likely to discuss the presidential election with Ms Banerjee on May 4.

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